Across the country, Amazon is forcing its warehouse workers to choose between signing up for 10-hour graveyard shifts or quitting their jobs.
Some Amazon delivery associates who drive packages to customers' houses are also having their lives upended by this new shift model, known as the "megacycle."
A message one of Amazon's delivery service partners sent to drivers at an Amazon warehouse in Atlanta, known as DAT1, in late January, informed drivers that because of "megacycle," Amazon would extend their delivery shifts from eight to 10 hours, and the number of routes would be reduced, forcing some drivers out of their jobs.
Though Amazon delivery associates drive Amazon-emblazoned vans to deliver packages to customers' homes—they are technically not employed by Amazon, but by small delivery companies, known as delivery service partners (DSPs), that operate out of Amazon warehouses.
"DAT1 is being switched to what Amazon calls a 'megacycle,'" a message sent to Amazon delivery drivers in Atlanta by their DSP and obtained by Motherboard, reads. "This will change our routes from 8-hour routes, to 10-hour routes."
"The bad news on this is that they are reducing every DSP in the station to 20 routes, and additional routes will be earned by performance," the message continued. "We understand that this is going to make this job unviable for some of you, and while we hate that, it is completely out of our control." (Each Amazon delivery route corresponds to one driver.)
Amazon largely controls its hundreds of delivery service partners around the country, dictating the working conditions for their drivers, including the algorithm that determines their quotas and routes. But the subcontractor business model allows Amazon to expand and contract its workforce as it sees fit without paying for permanent employees or taking responsibility when drivers, pushed to make speedy deliveries, get into accidents.
As Motherboard reported last week, Amazon has been quietly rolling out this graveyard shift at delivery stations (the smallest type of Amazon warehouse where packages are prepared for last-mile delivery) across the country and upending the lives of warehouse workers, in particular parents, the elderly, and other employees with daytime obligations or physical limitations. The grueling megacycle shift runs from roughly 1 am to 11 am, with some variation across different parts of the United States.
Several warehouses have already been organizing a petition to demand that Amazon provide warehouse workers $2 an hour extra for megacycle shifts nationwide, accommodations for mothers, parents, and caretakers who can only work part of a megacycle shift, and free Lyft rides to night time shifts.
It's less clear how these changes are impacting Amazon's 75,000 delivery drivers, beyond the Amazon delivery station in Atlanta. At least in Atlanta, the changes will push delivery services partners into even fiercer competition with one another.
Are you an Amazon delivery who has been impacted by megacycle? We’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch with the author Lauren Gurley at Lauren.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal 201-897-2109.
A spokesperson for Amazon did not respond to a question about whether drivers around the country were seeing the number of routes cut and shifts extended but said, "We are making changes to our schedules to create more full time opportunities. These schedules are commonly used across our operations network and we are closely working with delivery service partners to best support their needs."
The message from the Atlanta delivery service partner to drivers added that going forward, the number of routes allotted to each delivery company will start out at half of what they previously were, until companies earn more routes based on their performance. The delivery company wrote that they ultimately believed "these changes will be extremely beneficial in the long-term."